(November 18, 1991) Dai Qing, a former political prisoner who is one of China’s most famous women journalists, was detained this weekend while trying to arrange to see U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, sources here said Sunday.
Today, Dai’s family was told she would be returned home later today.
A second woman, Hou Xiaotian, the wife of a jailed dissident, also was detained in a separate arrest aimed at preventing her from meeting a Baker aide. After her release Sunday evening, Hou said that she had been well-treated while in confinement at a guarded guest house outside Beijing and had spent much of the time playing mah-jongg with her women guards.
Hou was to have met Saturday with Richard Schifter, assistant secretary of state for human rights. Her husband, Wang Juntao, is serving a 13-year sentence for helping to organize pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Dai apparently remained in detention late Sunday.
When asked about Dai’s arrest at a news conference just before he left to return to Washington, Baker said that he did not know much about what may have happened. ”If it’s true, it would be distressing news, and it’s something that I would like to ask our ambassador to inquire into of the Chinese government,” he said.
The treatment of Dai – who has been unable to get permission to leave China to accept a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University – contrasts sharply with promises Baker said he received from Chinese leaders during weekend meetings with them here. One of those promises seemed specifically aimed at people such as Dai and, if honored, should mean that she would soon be allowed to travel to the United States.
”Having raised the issue of denial of exit permits to prominent intellectuals and families of Chinese personalities now abroad, we were assured that any person against whom no criminal proceedings were pending would be allowed to leave after completing the usual formalities,” Baker said.
Some human-rights advocates in the United States had publicly urged Baker to meet with Chinese dissidents at the American Embassy during his visit here, and apparently some embassy staff members put out discreet feelers before Baker’s arrival to see if any of Beijing’s tiny band of active government critics wanted to meet him.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said later that Baker was unlikely to meet with any dissidents because he feared they might suffer reprisals if he did so.
By Los Angeles Times, November 18, 1991
Categories: News Coverage About Dai Qing